JJ Abrams’ Terrahawks

Original Gerry Anderson's Terrahawkes Logo

The original Terrahawks TV show was notable for four things: the gloriously over the top vehicles, the ridiculous animal-related character names, the genuinely unsettling villains and an inevitable ‘evil pop music’ episode so dreadful I remember being embarrassed watching it at age 10. It was a deeply bizarre show, and the scarcity of copies of it, as well as the in-jokes that litter its scripts have given it nigh- cult status. So how, or who, would reboot it?

Why, JJ Abrams of course.

The Pitch

Fringe meets Thunderbirds.

The Characters

Doctor Theresa Junque – A hot-housed genius raised by the state, Theresa Junque was committed five years ago. She fills endless notebooks with sketches of unusual vehicles and a haggard, artificial, face. She has refused to elaborate on and instead has simply waited, keeping herself in top physical condition as she does so.

Agent Elizabeth Munnin – An MI5 officer directed to the first Zelda Collective attack by a confidential informant who knows everything about her. She joined the service five years previously, and when her investigations uncover a photo of her mother, Alexandra Hugin and Theresa Junque together, she volunteers to act as the scientist?s handler. She is under orders to kill Junque if she steps out of line.

Vincent Hugin – The estranged son of Alexandra Hugin, the first, and last, person to set foot on Mars, Vincent is a decorated pilot and brilliant engineer who has worked deep in the American black ops community for years. Charming, ruthless and completely at peace with his skill for violence, Vincent is asked for by name by Junque, and is instrumental in helping understand Operation Terrahawk and the role Zero has played in it.

Zero – Elizabeth?s secret informant is, in actuality, the first functioning AI on the planet. Developed from the rudimentary AI aboard the doomed Valiant mission and housed in an abandoned prototype spherical combat chassis on Earth, Zero has used his expertise to build up financial muscle everywhere on the planet, as well as an army of smaller, less intelligent, autonomous combat shells.

The Zelda Collective – The first evidence of the Zelda Collective was discovered by the Phobos 2 space probe in the 1990s. Initially designed to be the first mission to land on Phobos, one of Mars? moons, Phobos II was destroyed by something that was, to quote the official statement, ?not supposed to be there,? an automated defence network set up around the moon. I reality, the weapons hive combining a library of combat-sculpted genotypes with a factory to crank out mission adaptable humanoid androids was deisgned to act as Mars? last line of defence. The Collective has awoken, and, using stolen data from Phobos II, mapped out a ruling body that resembles a nightmarish Earth family. These beings, led by one calling herself Zelda, have decided Earth is not only the enemy but the future. Because hidden on Deimos, Mars? other moon, is a library of genetic samples from Mars? original inhabitants, the Mysterons?

The Back Story

The war started five years ago. When the disastrous Valiant mission landed on Mars, its radio silent due to what was reported as a mechanical failure. It stayed less than twenty four hours and when it left, only Captain Alexandra Hugin was aboard. She was taken to a secure hospital where she was placed in the care of Theresa Junque and Constance Hugin. She told them what no one on else on Earth could know;

The ship had been detailed to find out the truth about Phobos and was attacked by small cubic robots when it moved within fifty miles of the asteroid. The robots survived re?entry into Mars? atmosphere and the crew were forced to destroy them hand to hand. Those that didn?t die from their injuries were encased by the robots and taken, apparently, to orbit. Badly injured herself, Alexandra returned home. The war had started and her crew were the first causalities.

Junque, Hugin and Muninn convene the first planetary war council in human history from Hugin?s hospital bed. They assembled a think tank of scientists who frantically worked on the fragments Hugin had brought back with her and the readings she?d taken to develop something which could be used to fight the inevitable invasion. Enter the Terrahawks Initiative, a series of autonomous weapons platforms stationed at strategic points around the planet for use in direct combat, recon, or troop transportation. Using the single, barely functional full Cube Hugin returned with, they also constructed Zero, an evolution of the rudimentary AI aboard the Valiant and the only computer system with first hand experience of the enemy. Expanded into a fractal AI who would learn and evolve exponentially the longer he was active, Zero would be the brain and the Terrorhawks would be the muscle.

Earth was ready for war in eighteen months. The price was Junque?s short term sanity and the collapse of Munnin and Hugin?s family lives.

The Plot

Five years later, against Junque?s pleas, an automated mission is sent to Mars and triggers a full scale retaliatory strike against an observatory in England. Munnin is directed there by a mysterious informant and not only witnesses the Zelda Collective establish a beachhead but sees it destroyed by an impossibly advanced fighter aircraft. Heading up the investigation into the event, her research leads her to the institutionalized Junque and Hugin at her insistence. Together, their investigation leads them to the discovery of the covert and now five year old war, their families? roles in it, and Zero.

But Junque isn?t telling them everything. And none of them know the Zelda Collective were on Earth long, long before the Phobos Omega mission was ever conceived?

Nagging Questions

-Why does Theresa Junque know so much about the Zelda Collective?
-Why do Elizabeth and Vincent have no memory of their mothers working with Junque?
-Why does Junque insist on Vincent joining the team, and by name?
-Why are the Zelda Collective so interested in Earth?
-What did Junque have to sacrifice to get the Terrahawks Initiative on it?s feet?
-What elements of the Initiative, or staff, have been forgotten out in the wilds?
-Who really built Zero?
-Why is there a photo of Theresa Junque giving a lecture to the British Cabinet in 1941?
-How far does Zero?s influence reach?
-How long have the sculpted bioweapons at Zelda?s disposal been on Earth?
-Who is the mysterious, white-haired man who visits Junque whenever Hugin and Munnin aren?t around?
-Why are there records of encounters with something from Mars dating back to the early 20th century?

Automated weapons platforms, a secret war, a very English Armageddon and wide scale property damage meet secret history, Faustian deals and family secrets. The show really is a great fit for JJ Abrams? style. Of course I wouldn?t make room for the boxed set just yet. Anyone fancy a game of noughts and crosses whilst we wait?

Alasdair Stuart

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